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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, July 16th (All times eastern)

Houston Astros (33-56) at San Diego Padres (36-54), 10:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston - J.A. Happ (6-9, 5.14) San Diego - Kip Wells (1-2, 2.50)

(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres are back in the friendly confines of Petco Park and will try to keep their recent momentum going when they begin a four-game series tonight versus the struggling Houston Astros.

San Diego took the last two portions of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend and posted the series win with Sunday's 7-2 triumph thanks to five errors by the hosts.

Jason Marquis pitched well and held Los Angeles to a pair of runs in six innings, while the bullpen kept the Dodgers off the board the rest of the way.

"Jason was more deliberate between pitches. He did a good job today," Padres manager Bud Black said of his starter. "We got some good at-bats from a number of guys. The last three innings our offense and pitching was outstanding."

Everth Cabrera crossed the plate with the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning on a two-run throwing error by Jerry Hairston Jr., while Chase Headley hit a solo home run for the Padres, winners in eight of 12 games.

The Padres will also host Colorado for three games on this homestand.

Taking the ball for San Diego tonight will be veteran Kip Wells. Wells will make his fourth start of the season and is 1-2 with a 2.50 earned run average. He lost his most recent outing, a 6-0 loss to Cincinnati, and was reached for three runs in six innings.

Wells, a right-hander, was beaten by Houston at Minute Maid Park on June 26 in a 5-3 decision, as he allowed five runs -- two earned -- in five innings. He is just 4-10 with a 5.26 ERA in 21 career games (19 starts) against Houston.

Meanwhile, the Astros are struggling and have dropped four straight and 13 of their last 14 games.

The Astros were swept in three games by San Francisco over the weekend and dropped a 3-2 decision in Sunday's finale by the bay. Bud Norris pitched well in defeat and permitted all three runs and five hits in six innings.

Chris Johnson drove in a run and Marwin Gonzalez ended with a team-best two hits for Houston, which couldn't solve Giants starter Matt Cain. Cain allowed two runs -- one earned -- in 6 1/3 innings and threw a perfect game against the Astros last month.

"He's probably one of the best pitchers I've faced this year for sure," Johnson said. "He's easily in the top three. Not only does he have really good stuff, he competes harder than just about anybody we face. You put two things together like that, it's pretty tough."

The Astros placed both shortstop Jed Lowrie (knee/ankle) and catcher Jason Castro (knee) on the disabled list Sunday. They are mired in a 13-game road losing streak -- one shy of a franchise record. Houston lost 13 in a row away from home June 1-29, 1990.

Houston is 0-3 on a 10-game road trip and hopes J.A. Happ can bring some life to the mound Monday night. Happ, though, has dropped two straight and six of eight starts and was pounded his last time out in a 7-1 loss to Milwaukee on July 6, when he gave up all seven runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Happ dropped to 6-9 in 17 starts to go along with a 5.14 ERA and is still searching for his first road win of the season (0-4, 6 starts). The left- hander has faced the Padres four times (3 starts) in his career, going 1-2 with a 2.74 ERA in that stretch.

The 2012 series between the Astros and Padres is tied at 2-2, but San Diego has won five of the past seven meetings.

07/16 10:34:02 ET

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